Milan San Remo Tune-up

Cycling : BOONEN Tom / Milan - Sanremo

Which is the best race to ride yourself into form for Milan San Remo? Is it Paris-Nice? Or is it Tirreno-Adriatico?

While the respective race organisers ASO and RCS try to tempt the major G.C. riders to their races, the classics stars are also faced with a choice of how best to prepare for the first monument classic of the season.

Take a look at the results of Milan San Remo for the last few years and it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Paris-Nice provides the better preparation. Last year’s winner Alexander Kristoff was present at the French race as were the winners of the 2012 and 2011 editions, Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss.

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The Hardest Monument Classic

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Which classic is the hardest?

It’s an impossible question to answer definitively as the topic will always be somewhat subjective. How do you define ‘hard’? Hills? Cobbles? Wind? Rain? Speed?

Perhaps a good place to start is to rule out all of the classics that are not considered to be one of the five monuments – Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy. After all, they’re considered to be above all the others for a reason.

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Black is the new Shite

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In June 2013, current UCI President Brian Cookson released his manifesto which ultimately succeeded in helping him get elected at the UCI congress later that year.

In that manifesto in the section entitled ‘Overhaul the structure of elite road cycling’ Cookson wrote the following:

The structure of elite cycling needs to provide a clear and compelling narrative that is easy for spectators, sponsors and broadcasters to follow. “

In its context, Cookson was writing specifically about the organisation of events throughout the year into a cohesive and coherent calendar. But if we cherry-pick a phrase from that campaign pledge, that cycling needs to be easy for spectators to follow, this is in rather stark conflict with the news which has been emerging from various UCI teams over the last few weeks.

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A Monumental Loss of Tradition

(via https://www.flickr.com/photos/brendan2010/)

Norwegian, Swiss, Dutch, Australian and Irish -the nationalities of the five winners of the 2014 monument classics were unusually diverse. It was only the fifth time that all five races were won by riders from different countries. Notably the winners didn’t include any Belgians, French, Italians or Spaniards. This is not quite a first in cycling history, but it almost is.

Labelled ‘La Doyenne’ for good reason, the first ever monument classic that took place was Liége-Bastogne-Liége in 1892. Only one year has passed since then where none of the five took place, 1895. The following year after that barren Spring, Paris-Roubaix arrived, soon followed thereafter by the Tour of Lombardy and then Milan San Remo. In 1913, the Tour of Flanders completed what we now hold dear as the set of five biggest one day races and not a year has passed since then, despite the two World Wars, where at least one of them hasn’t taken place.

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The Million Dollar Nonsense

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“If Quintana, Froome, Nibali and Contador all agree to ride all three Grand Tours, I’ll get Tinkoff Bank to put up €1 million. They can have €250,000 each as an extra incentive. I think it’s a good idea”

The words of Oleg Tinkov speaking recently to Cycling News as he once more offers to throw money at the sport of cycling for his own amusement.

Trying to win all three Grand Tours in the same year is seemingly impossible, but Tinkov seems to think that every rider has their price. With that notion, he might be right, €250,000 is a lot of money. Perhaps not worth as much to these multi-million euro contracted riders than to you or I, but a lot of money nonetheless.

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The Changing Face of Cycling

Imagine you’re the manager of a cycling team and you’re looking for a particular type of rider. But instead of finding one guy that fits the job description, you find several, all with very similar physical attributes and identical salary demands – how do you decide which one to sign? The answer might be, whichever one you’re able to remember the most.

Listening to Daniel Friebe’s recent interview with Dan Craven on The Cycling Podcast would certainly lend credence to this assertion. Craven, who has just completed the Vuelta a Espana, his first ever Grand Tour, is one of the most remember-able riders in the peloton due to the considerable facial hair that he’s been cultivating for the last few years. In a sport where beards and moustaches are not all that common, Craven stands out immediately, a fact not lost on the Namibian rider when he spoke to Friebe about how he ended up signing for Team Europcar:

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